Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gustav Klimt: a Pop of Color

I rarely turn on the TV in my home.  It's a habit that I somehow managed to drop years ago.  (You're probably thinking - What in the world does TV have to do with Gustav Klimt? Well, read on...)

Believe me, I'm not intending to sound snooty or holier-than-thou by telling you that I don't watch TV.  I'm actually a little embarrassed about it because it's made me somewhat oblivious to current culture and trends.  Of course, being completely lost in my world of antiques much of the time doesn't help matters much either.
It also probably doesn't help that I've got such an archaic TV.

Just kidding...yes, this is my vintage Motorola television, complete with rabbit ears, taking up way too much space in my front porch.  But I do have another TV in my living room that's a little newer model.  :-)

Anyway, I bring this up because for the first time in ages, I found myself watching TV last week with my sisters Mary and Jenny, after an evening of babysitting for Jenny's little daughters.  Both sisters are somewhat hooked on HGTV, and that night we watched Design Stars, where interior designers compete to win their own online show.  It was the first time I'd seen the show - and I'll admit I was intrigued. 

Jenny confided that despite watching so many home decorating shows, she still feels like a novice. And she said that the only decorating trick she always remembers is that it's important to add "a pop of color" to a room.  "Pop of color, pop of color," she chanted. "That's all they ever talk about!"  And we all laughed.

Well, I can't think of a better way to add a pop of color to a room than with a classic work of art.  As someone who loves vintage fashion, I find that I'm especially drawn to oil paintings that feature women. 

Here's a favorite Picasso that I get to enjoy every day as I type away on my keyboard, because I've placed it on the wall directly above my home computer!

Pablo Picasso. Woman with Book, 1932. Oil on canvas. 51 x 38 inches.
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena CA

And this Modigliani is in my kitchen.  Perhaps an odd choice for a kitchen, but it adds just the right touch of color against my white walls & cabinets.

Amedeo Modigliani. Gypsy Woman with Child. 1919. Oil on canvas. 115.9 x 73 cm.
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

When it comes to "pops of color" one of my favorite artists is Gustav Klimt (1862 - 1918) - an Austrian Symbolist painter and a prominent member of the Vienna Secession movement. His primary subject was the female body, which he painted with elegant gold or colored decoration of spirals, swirls and flowers. Many of his works are marked by a frank eroticism which caused a scandal on more than one occasion. 

 A selection of Klimt's work is included in the wonderful video below, compliments of YouTube's Accabadora.  The lovely and haunting music is from Wojciech Kilar's "Prologue: My Life Before Me."

The title of the Klimt work featured on the video above, is Die Musik (or Music I), 1895. I've got this one hanging in my college office.  In the midst of a chaos of white paper, it adds color and calm.

Here are some other Klimt favorites.  I especially love the first one (below), Garden Path with Chickens, 1916.  Do you have a favorite?

In 2006, the 1907 portrait above, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, was purchased for the Neue Galerie in New York by Ronald Lauder for a reported US $135 million, surpassing Picasso's 1905 Boy With a Pipe (sold May 5, 2004 for $104 million), as the highest reported price ever paid for a painting.

Gustav Klimt. Hygeia. Detail of Medicine. 1900-1907. Oil on canvas. Destroyed by fire in 1945. (Above)

Detail from Water Snakes II (also called Friends II). 1907.  (Below)

Best wishes for a Sunday that brings you bright pops of color throughout the day.  Cheers!


  1. I love your pops of colour.

    I must agree with you, paintings truly are one of the best ways to add character to a room.

  2. I am always surprised when people *don't* have art on their walls, but I forget that not everyone was raised with art as a part of their everyday lives.

    I love "Garden Path with Chickens" but I think that's just because I'm on a chicken kick...I want to keep chickens in our backyard!

  3. Nancy and Foxglove: Glad you both stopped by. I need to pay your blogs a visit again...see you soon!

    Nancy - chickens in your backyard? Let us know if you decide to do it! I think I'll pass on that idea and stick with the painting. :-)


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